Wagner Boss rejects Putin’s Offer to Join the Russian Force Officially

In summary

  • What is Russia’s Wagner mercenary group?
  • Stranger than fiction: When Putin met the mutineer.
  • Russian state TV takes aim at Wagner’s Prigozhin

Wagner mercenary group boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin has rejected Putin’s offer that his fighters serve as a unit in Russia’s army.

Putin said Prigozhin’s reply was “the guys do not agree with this decision”.
He told Kommersant newspaper that many group commanders had backed the plan to be led by a senior Wagner figure during recent talks in Moscow.
Under the deal that ended the short-lived rebellion, the mercenaries were told they could join the regular Russian army or head to Belarus, a close ally of Russia.

READ Also: Sudan crisis: Is it Russia verses the West or Sudan verses Sudan?

The Wagner mystery

Wagner group as they enter Belarus from Russia – PHOTO Courtesy

Wagner has fought some of the bloodiest battles since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

However, the US military now assesses that the group is no longer “participating in any significant capacity in support of combat operations in Ukraine”.

The comments were made on Thursday by Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder, who also said that “the majority” of Wagner fighters were believed to still be in areas of Russian-occupied Ukraine.
In a separate development, Belarus’ defense ministry said on Friday that Wagner fighters were now acting as military instructors for the country’s territorial defense forces.

READ Also: Wagner boss to capture Russian generals amid the uprising

The ministry said the fighters were training Belarusian forces “in a number of military disciplines” near the town of Osipovichy, about 85km (53 miles) south-east of the capital Minsk.

Recent developments.

President Putin recently mentioned that 35 Wagner commanders, including Prigozhin, had been present at the Kremlin meeting on 29 June. Mr Putin said he had offered them several “employment options”, including continued service under the command of a senior Wagner commander known by his nom de guerre Sedoi – Grey Hair.

He also said that “Wagner does not exist” when asked whether the group would be preserved as a fighting unit. “There is no law on private military organizations. It just doesn’t exist.” This “difficult issue” of how to legalize Wagner fighters should be discussed in parliament, Mr Putin suggested.

The current whereabouts of Prigozhin, a former Putin loyalist, are unknown.

The US effect.

US President Biden and Putin shake hands – PHOTO Courtesy.

On Thursday, US President Joe Biden said Prigozhin should be careful of poisoning following the mutiny. He also said there was no possibility of Mr Putin winning the war in Ukraine.
He expressed the “hope and expectation” that Ukraine would make enough progress in its current counter-offensive for there to be a negotiated peace settlement.

Ukraine has long asked Western allies to provide more military assistance to help it fight back against the Russian invasion.

Last week Ukrainian army commander Oleksandr Tarnavskyi told US broadcaster CNN that the military had received the first consignment of cluster munitions promised by the US in a controversial move.

He stressed that they would make a difference to Ukraine’s fortunes on the front line.

“We just got them, we haven’t used them yet, but they can radically change [the battlefield],” Mr Tarnavskyi said.

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